The Minnesota Lynx came into the 2023 WNBA offseason with high hopes of quickly retooling the roster following the retirement of Sylvia Fowles and after failing to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010.
The Lynx swung big while trying to lure the likes of Breanna Stewart, Azurá Stevens, and others to Minnesota to pair alongside Napheesa Collier, the new face of the organization moving forward. Although they were reportedly finalists for multiple top-tier free agents, the Lynx struck out on those attempts to sign a star player.
To say the offseason has been underwhelming for Minnesota would be an understatement. The Lynx would have obviously liked to bring in a top talent searching for a new team this offseason, but they haven’t been able to so far and find themselves in a similar situation to last summer—now without Fowles in the paint.
After seeing what has—or hasn’t—unfolded in Minnesota this offseason, what might lie ahead for Cheryl Reeve, Collier, and company with the Lynx? What options are left in free agency? Will they try and focus on the draft and the high picks they currently possess? Will they analyze the trade market to bring in talent already on a roster elsewhere?
Let’s take a look at what might be next for Minnesota this offseason.
What’s Left in Free Agency
The start of March marked the one-month point since players could officially start putting pen to paper on contracts. The Lynx came into the offseason looking to add to the guard and post positions on the roster. Minnesota re-signed Damiris Dantas, Bridget Carleton, Nikolina Milić, and Lindsay Allen and signed veteran guard Tiffany Mitchell in early February, but many are wondering what the team might do next.
Although most of the top free agents have signed with teams, there are still a few options remaining for Minnesota to consider. Among the unsigned free agents available, the Lynx could look into adding players such as center Tina Charles and forwards Jantel Lavender and Emma Meesseman. The list of choices becomes even more limited when it comes to guards, with Bria Hartley likely one of the top remaining available options.
Free agency is starting to wind down, and the pool of available players is getting thinner by the day, but there are still a few options for Minnesota to consider on the open market. However, the fact that the Lynx haven’t signed some of the players mentioned yet might mean they prefer to look elsewhere to add to the team.
Outside of free agency, the other big event on the offseason calendar before the new year begins is the WNBA draft in April. The 2023 draft will be held in New York on April 10, with coverage of the three-round selection process beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
This will be one of the most important drafts in recent memory for Minnesota because of the opportunity the organization has to bring in at least one impactful and talented player to the team. As March Madness gets underway in college basketball, the Lynx hold two first-round picks (No. 2 and No. 12), two second-round selections (No. 16 and No. 24), and one third-round pick (No. 28).
Have you checked out our official 2023 Mock Draft?
@mccohen5 & @RachGall have you covered on predicting the first round grabs in the upcoming WNBA draft. https://t.co/xufdgqhyWc
— Winsidr (@Winsidr) February 25, 2023
The biggest asset Minnesota possesses is that second overall selection, which it could use to bring in an impactful rookie talent or as trade bait to bring in a more experienced player from another team. If the Lynx hold onto the second pick, there is a real opportunity to bring in a player that can become a staple for the organization alongside Collier. Players such as Maryland’s Diamond Miller and Stanford’s Haley Jones are intriguing two-way guards that Minnesota could choose.
Outside of the second pick, a selection Reeve said this offseason “starts the draft,” Minnesota could also select some impressive players at No. 12 and in the second and third rounds, perhaps addressing the need at post with Fowles now retired. Options that could be available for that final first-round selection include UConn forward Dorka Juhász, Villanova forward Maddy Siegrist, or maybe even Virginia Tech center Elizabeth Kitley.
The Lynx have multiple options they could explore in the WNBA draft, assuming they hang onto their top selections.
The Trade Market
Over the years, Reeve and company have used the trade market as their primary source for acquiring players to help the organization win now. There have been many examples since Reeve arrived in 2010 of Minnesota doing just that, notably the team trading for Lindsay Whalen in 2010 and Sylvia Fowles in 2015.
There has been a lot of discussion this offseason about the lack of moves made by the Lynx in free agency and what they might do in the upcoming draft. But maybe they don’t do much of anything in either of those avenues to address the needs on the squad this year. Maybe they do something similar to what we’ve seen in the past and go out and trade for a player that can help the team win immediately.
Obviously, it takes two teams (at least) to tango in a trade, but the Lynx could strongly consider the trade market if they continue to strike out on free agents and don’t regard this year’s draft class as highly as others might. If that is the route they choose, the Lynx have plenty of assets to make a trade happen.
For starters, perhaps one of the most attractive assets the Lynx currently have is draft capital. As mentioned prior, they have the second and No. 12 picks in the opening round of April’s draft. They also have a few additional picks in other rounds this year and next year. Those draft picks alone could make a deal happen.
Minnesota could also explore the possibility of packaging its draft picks up with a player or two to make a deal more enticing. Considering salary cap concerns and that other teams would likely want to have an impact player returning to their organization in a deal, this seems like the more probable scenario.
Although there is plenty of offseason left for things to unfold, the Lynx have a lot of work to do ahead of the new season. Reconstructing their roster following losing legendary center Fowles is not proving easy, but the Lynx still have a chance to claw their way back before the 2023 campaign tips off.